Essex County Council needs to collect and use certain types of information about people we deal with. The Data Protection Act 1998 says all personal information must be dealt with properly, however it is collected, recorded and used, whether on paper, in a computer, or on other material, and there are safeguards to make sure this happens.
The Act gives anyone the right to find out about the information held about them. View our policy.
Essex County Council recognises the importance of providing access to social care files for care leavers, to enable their understanding of their personal history, the reasons for their care and increase their sense of identity.
We do not charge for providing your information to you.
How to access your information
To access your information, you will need to put your request in writing. You can either:
You will need to provide information for us to identify you from our records such as name, address and date of birth. You will also need to tell us what kind of information you are requesting (such as social care, HR or Education records) to enable us to locate the information. Send your request to:
PO Box 11
Please bear in mind emailing is not secure and there is a small risk your email could be intercepted before it reaches us, with the consequence that your personal details could become known to others.
Proof of identity
When we receive a request for information, we must make sure you are who you say you are. Unless the staff handling your request know and recognise you, we need proof of identity. These include:
- Your full name
- Your residential address
- Date of birth
The following documents can be accepted to verify your identity. We require two forms of ID:
- Current UK/EEA passport
- UK photocard driving licence (full or provisional)
- Firearms licence/shotgun certificate
- EEA national identity card
- Full UK paper driving licence
- State benefits entitlement document*
- State pension entitlement document*
- HMRC tax credit document*
- Local authority benefit document*
- State/local authority educational grant document*
- HMRC tax notification document
- Disabled driver's pass
*These documents must be dated in the past 12 months
- Financial statement issued by bank, building society or credit card company
- Judiciary document such as a notice of hearing, summons or court order+
- Utility bill for supply of gas, electric, water or telephone landline+
- Most recent mortgage statement
- Most recent council tax bill/demand or statement
- Current council rent card
- Current council tenancy agreement
- Building society passbook which shows a transaction in the last three months and your address
+ These documents must be less than three months old.
We will accept copies of these documents. However, we reserve the right to ask for originals if photocopies are not of a good quality.
Acting on behalf of someone else
The right to request personal information under the Data Protection Act 1998 applies only to the data subject (the person about whom the information is held). There is no automatic right, for example, for a family member to request personal information about an elderly relative, for a solicitor to request personal information about a client, or for parents to request personal information about their children.
Where data protection requests are made on behalf of adults, the Council needs to check that the person making the request has appropriate authority and that the request is made in the data subject’s interest.
Children have the right to request their own information themselves. People with parental responsibility can, however, apply on their child's behalf where the child is too young to understand. Where a child cannot understand, which usually means they are under the age of 12, the council must satisfy itself that the parents' request is made in the child's interest. There may be occasions when we decide not to give information to a parent or when we may ask a child to make a request on their own behalf.
The personal information Essex County Council holds about children is mainly in areas such as social care but it does hold some educational information, particularly with regard to special educational needs. Most educational records are maintained by schools, which means that requests should normally be made to the appropriate school, not to the council.
Parents interested in their children’s educational records have a separate right of access to these under the Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005 regardless of their children’s ages, and they should normally apply to the school for these records.
Educational records held by the school should be fulfilled within 15 school days, whether they are made under the Data Protection Act 1998 or under the Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005.
What the council does to provide the information
Essex County Council is obliged by the Data Protection Act 1998 to comply with your request within 40 calendar days of receiving proof of identity or clarification of what is required.
We must tell you whether we hold the information requested and, if we do, should give you a description of the information, the purposes for which it is being processed, the types of people to whom the information may be disclosed, and the source of the information. We should give you a copy of the information, but there may be occasions when you agree to visit us to view the information instead.
We are obliged to check whether any of the information is exempt as defined in the Data Protection Act and cannot be provided after all.
The main exemption we must consider relates to other people’s rights under data protection. If your information contains information about other living individuals, we must consider whether it would be lawful and fair to them to disclose it. We would normally seek their consent before making our decision.
Other exemptions we must consider relate to national security, crime, taxation, prejudice of regulatory activity, legal professional privilege, the social work records exemption and health and education work records exemption.
If you are not satisfied with the way we have handled your request, you should write to:
Essex County Council
Customer Care Team
PO Box 297
Essex CM1 1YS
If you are still not satisfied, you can ask the Information Commissioner to carry out an assessment. The Information Commissioner is an independent supervisory authority responsible for data protection and freedom of information.
Other rights under the Data Protection Act 1998
If you find that some information we hold about you is incorrect, you can apply to us (or to the courts, if necessary) to have it corrected or deleted. This applies to inaccurate information or opinions based on inaccurate information.
If you consider that the way we handle your personal information, in whole or in part, is causing you or someone else substantial damage or substantial distress, you can write to us specifying the reasons why we should stop. We must comply with your request (known under the Act as a “data subject notice”) unless we consider that your request is unjustified. We must write to you within 21 days to let you know how we are complying with your request or why we are not complying.
You can claim compensation from us through the courts if you have suffered damage as a result of our contravening the Act.
The Act also gives you the right to prevent processing for the purpose of direct marketing and to prevent automatic decision-making that has no human involvement.
To make or discuss a request:
Access to Records Team
PO Box 11
To make a complaint:
Essex County Council
Customer Care Team
PO Box 297
Essex Cm1 1YS
To get in touch with the regulatory body: